Words and Photography – Ian Linton
In the third of the series The Whyte Endura King and Queen of the Hill – Scottish Open Enduro Champs served up a storming end to the TweedLove season with a full capacity start line and a new basecamp in the green fields of Walkerburn, well they were green on Thursday anyway. Near to 500 riders took to the trails spanning two sides of the valley – Caberston (golfy) and the more established Innerleithen classics. Getting back to those green fields, it seems the gods of weather conjured up another storm for the weekend. Just like the storm that hit Vallelujah in March in came another on Friday and Saturday, all that practice that was done on the dry trails the weeks before went out the window.
TweedLove Director Neil Dalgleish said the weekend was a fitting finale to the season’s racing: “the three races that made up the TweedLove Triple Crown have seen some fantastic racing, some brilliant people and some amazing trails, we’re looking forward to a winter of planning even better events for next year. We’d like to thank Whyte Bikes, Endura and Shimano for their invaluable support over the last season.”
Getting back to those “Green Fields” the heavy rain on Friday kinda made it a bit on the greasy muddy side. Skills riding out without spilling your coffee and some assistance needed to park the Shimano van. Unfortunately the Shimano inflatable was pretty unruly and spent the morning rolling around in the mud.
Stage 1 for the weekends racing was “Mince baby Mince” a trail littered with sniper roots and tight turns made all the worse with the rain adding a fair amount of slop on the top half before you dropped into the bottom section. Much of the same with a couple of little cheeky climbs.
Stage 2 was a mix of classic downhill trails that flowed down the hill to the arena, here there was a cheeky wee climb of 20mtrs then a drop down to the Bombhole. Sharp right at the top down into the gully and straight down into the bottom gully and your done. Here we have Heriot Allstars rider Chris enjoying some of Saturdays fine weather and getting a bit of heckling from Thomas Mitchell
Second place on the day and second in the series for Drew Carters. He came into the bottom gully faster than anyone in practice, on the plus side he emptied the big puddle for the next few riders 10/10 for style haha
Happy muddy smiley faces at the bottom of stage 2 on Saturday
Looking over from the top of stage 4 over the stunning purple heather you can see dozens of tiny riders heading to the start of stage 3
Sitting around waiting for riders on practice day is always good to get some alternative photos
Time to go racing now and there was a hefty amount of climbing round the valley in between stages, you can always rely on the Whyte team for a bit style
It was a bit of a shock for Gary Forrest’s return to the valley after spending weeks riding in the sunshine and dust of America and Canada. Seems he quite likes riding in these conditions as he stormed to victory by over 2 minutes in the masters class and took the overall win and King of the Valley by 50 seconds.
The trails are tight techy in places here at Innerleithen, that’s what makes the Tweed Valley such a great place to ride.
Womans triple crown winner Eilidh Wells negotiates some more of the tight lines through the trees, 4th place on the day was enough to take the triple crown title.
Some people however didn’t manage to negotiate the trails quite as good as others, fortunately the medics and marshall’s were on hand all weekend to deal with the thankfully few incidents – always overlooked so a big thanks to all those folks who give there time up to support the race series.
Katy Winton jetted back into Scotland the day before the race returning from racing EWS rounds in America and Canada, after practice on Saturday the jetlag kicked in and floored her mid afternoon. Thankfully an early start on race day meant she could probably get the race out of the way before it kicked in again. A good solid day in the saddle reaped rewards of retaining the Queens crown for another year.
Second place by just 1 second today for young Ben Balfour, you gotta feel for the youngster who caught this rider and tried to pass on the left but he probably didn’t know or forgot that there was a ditch dug out next to the trail to drain the water. Look out for this lad as he’s only 14 and already flying.
It get’s a bit dark up in those woods when the weather closes in..
And a bit scary steep and looser than you’d think..
Some riders even had issues on the transitions from stage to stage, maybe he was to busy looking at the awesome views that the Tweed Valley has to offer even on a dank dreary day.
Stage 4 also known as Jawbone is a tough old trail to get a clean run down but from a photographic view point it’s hard to convey the steepness of it. This is near the bottom where it just looks awesome even when it’s chucking it down
Chris Hutchens journey down from up north paid off taking the senior win today with a decent time 38 secs in front of Drew Carters
The Valley’s finest trail crafter Neil Carnegie gives his better half Janey Kennedy a loving hug to congratulate her on her 3rd place result, he must be a good influence on you Janey as your getting faster every race. Maddy the Madatron scoff’s some of the finest food available post race.
And to wash down the fine food was some quite excellent beers on offer from The Tempest Brewing Co.
Well that’s a wrap for 2016 King of the Hill was local boy Gary Forrest (Ibis Cycles), while Katy Winton (Trek Factory Racing) retained her crown as Queen of the Hill. Triple Crown winners were Christo Gallacher and Eilidh Wells, who put in solid performances over the three events to earn there crowns.
Full list of results can be found here
All three events in TweedLove’s 2017 Triple Crown enduro series go on sale on Thursday 1 September 2016 at 7pm at www.tweedlove.com. A limited number of discounted Triple Crown entries will be available.
Here’s the official video of the weekends race to remind you all how great it is to race here in the Valley